Raising the Alarm: Farm Safety Demands Urgent Attention as Summer Approaches

"Farmers Urged to Prioritize Safety Measures Ahead of Silage Season and Summer 2023, Following HSENI Safety Alert"

The Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland (HSENI) has recently released a safety alert in collaboration with the Farm Safety Partnership, urging farmers and contractors to exercise extra caution when operating machinery and equipment on the farm, particularly during the summer months and in the lead up to silage season. The deputy president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), William Irvine, has also called for increased farm safety and vigilance during this busy time of year. Irvine emphasized the importance of taking a moment to reflect on the task at hand, and to read farm safety advice from the HSENI and other farm safety partners to ensure that tasks are performed in the safest way possible.

The HSENI has investigated three machinery incidents involving the loading of fertiliser into the hopper of a sower. In all three incidents, one of the vehicles involved in the operation moved and killed the farmer caught between the two machines. The HSENI has urged farmers to follow its ‘Safety Essentials’ guidelines, which include using the correct equipment for the job, never entering the danger area between the two vehicles when cutting the fertiliser bag, ensuring both machines are on firm level ground, practicing the safe stop procedure, and maintaining all machinery and equipment in good working order.

Rural insurer NFU Mutual has also called for farmers to prioritize farm safety ahead of silage season, warning that machinery used for silage cutting may not have been used for several months and urging farmers to carry out machine maintenance. Martin Malone, the Northern Ireland manager of NFU Mutual, emphasized the importance of safety during the silage-making season, noting that farm incidents often occur when people are tired, machinery is pushed too hard, or work continues in unfavourable conditions. NFU Mutual has released a “silage safety checklist” that can be accessed via its website.

The increased workload in the summer months, combined with the summer holidays for primary and secondary schools, can increase the risk of accidents involving children on-farm. Between 2010 and 2019, the main cause of death in children who died in agriculture and forestry related incidents was tractors and other machinery. AgriKids, a farm safety education organization, has called for awareness in relation to child safety on-farm during the summer months. Founder Alma Jordan urged farming families to be aware that children should not interfere with contractors doing their jobs, and that they are not obliged to give rides or allow children to operate machinery or equipment.

As the summer months approach and the workload on farms increases, it is important for farmers and contractors to prioritize safety and vigilance. By following guidelines such as the HSENI’s ‘Safety Essentials’ and carrying out machine maintenance, farmers can help prevent accidents and fatalities on the farm. Additionally, by being aware of the increased risk of accidents involving children on-farm during the summer months, farming families can take steps to ensure that children are kept safe and that accidents are prevented.

Categories: Agriculture